Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sexual Harasment at Berklee College (2017)


Over 10 years, there allegedly has been misconduct among faculty members and students of Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. According to the school president Roger Brown, 11 faculty members have been terminated. Prior to the termination, students led a march to stand against the lack of listening ears by administration. Hundreds of students attended the march. One main reason the march took place was because the school's president Roger Brown allowed the faculty members who were accused of such misconduct to "quietly leave" the school and positions. The uproar augmented when students found this out, understanding this should not be stuck in the silence.


There are many stakeholders affiliated to this case, both inside and outside campus. First, let's consider the students that were sexually harassed and assaulted. Obviously, they have been directly involved in the issue on campus, now traumatized and torn emotionally, physically, and mentally. The families and friends of those affected first-hand are also torn. Trust throughout the entire campus among students and faculty has shifted, and the college itself now has broken reputation. Investors that help fund the school are less likely to contribute to funding programs and expenses. High-school students are more likely to consider the inappropriate incidents and less likely to enroll in classes at Berklee.


Individualism has one thing in mind and one thing only- money. Maximizing profits is the number one concern for individualists, and I believe they would agree with the decision of firing the abusive staff members. If they were to keep those staff members, practically everyone would completely discredit the college for not properly handling the situations, thus preventing students from wanting to attend Berklee College. Ultimately, losing money from students and investors.


A Kantian is concerned with four main ideas or obligations. These four ideas include acting rational, behave with intentions of goodwill, allow and assist others to make their own rational decisions, and respect people, their autonomy, and individual. Now, the sexual harassment acts totally violate the respecting autonomy and individual aspect. The termination was a very rational decision made by administration is backed by good intentions, and was a very rational decision.There must be consequences for the actions the faculty enforced.


This theory relies all on happiness of oneself and others. Termination has made more people content than disappointed. The act of firing the unethical individuals has made students, parents, staff, and hundreds or others feel lighter on the entire situation. Unfortunately, we cannot make everyone happy in this situation because clearly there are two opposing forces and horrible actions have occurred.

Virtue Theory

The Virtue Theory focuses primarily on doing/having goodwill whenever possible. A virtue theorist would agree with firing the faculty member that have sexually abused the students. Any other minor consequence of less discipline would not be very credible, nor fair.

Works Cited:

Lazar, Kay. “Berklee President: 11 Faculty Members Have Been Terminated in 13 Years for Sex Assault, Harassment - The Boston Globe.”, 13 Nov. 2017,

Larimer, Sarah. “Boston's Berklee College of Music Reeling amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations Involving Professors.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Nov. 2017,

Hahn, Chae. “Berklee College of Music President Apologizes amid Widening Sexual Misconduct Scandal.” The Daily Pennsylvanian,

LaFratta, Kristin. “Berklee College of Music President Apologizes after Report Reveals 11 Faculty Members Fired for Sexual Harassment, Assault.”,, 16 Nov. 2017,

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Disney's Nutrition Study Scandal (2016)


Mickey Mouse themed waffles served at Disney World
The Walt Disney Company has been a multi-media empire since its founding in 1923, and generates over $36 million in revenue a day. According to the Walt Disney Company website, their mission statement is "to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world." Their business portfolio consists of media networks such as ABC, Freeform, and ESPN, while their parks, experiences, and consumer products consist of Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and the Disney store, along with many other amusement park locations around the globe. 

On April 8, 2016, an article was published with information that the company had pressured an academic journal to withdraw a study children’s meal nutrition. According to the article, Disney was not worried about the contents of the study, but rather feared being associated with one of the study’s main authors, James Hill. Dr. Hill, a professor at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine, had his last work, a project on sugary drinks and obesity funded by Coca Cola, opposed by fellow scientists in his field who felt that the results were tampered with.  This study had some bias in Coca Cola’s favor as Hill and his team determined that an increase of exercise could counteract eating and drinking sugary and fattening food.

STAT obtained emails between Disney and the study’s authors asking them to withdraw the meal study, regardless of an editor’s warnings of negative PR. Although no information has been revealed about Disney’s involvement with the study, if any at all, but this study shows how corporate sponsors and researchers interact with one another. When a Disney spokesman spoke on the issue, he wanted to reiterate that the questioning wasn’t about the study’s result, but rather Hill’s participation in the study.

Disney has their nutrition guidelines posted on their website now in 2018, which states that "Disney champions the happiness and well-being of kids, parents, and families, and will support healthy lifestyles for all ages by offering and portraying a balance of nutritious options." These guidelines later say that "virtually all of our food or beverage related promotions and sponsorships meet these Guideline. The few exceptions are generally a result of pre-existing contractual obligations." Although they state that they regularly re-evaluate their guidelines for nutrition, it is clear that other things have been done to meet these guidelines, and that they were not living up to the company's mission statement when they suppressed the study from being released.


Dr. James O. Hill: Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine,
Director Center for Human Nutrition, Director of the
Colorado Clinical Nutrition Research Unit
Many different stakeholders are effected by the ethical dilemma extend far beyond the stockholders. Shareholders of Disney, however, trust the company to be truthful on its studies, including knowing the procedures about how to fund them. Regardless of the true implications, a company funded study should not be pressured into not releasing the results as it is unethical and can cause stakeholders to loose trust in the company. The customers who go to Disney’s amusement parks are also affected by these decisions. Many common diseases can be managed or avoided altogether, including (but not limited to) certain cancers, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Most people have at least a fundamental understanding of nutrition, and people who are more likely to get these types of diseases pay attention to every detail about food they are eating. Especially while at a new location that serves food, people want to see the nutritional facts of the food they are are eating, and  they have a right to know so they can stay healthy. When nutrition studies are under pressure to be held from publication, it causes these customers to not trust companies.


An Individualist would think this case is ethical. According to Friedman’s individualism theory the only goal of business is to profit, so the obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner and/or stockholders. By dissociating itself from Hill and his team, Disney was doing the profitable thing by trying to avoid itself from someone who was part of an ethical controversy with another company. Disney spent  $2 billion dollars on advertising in 2016, and when compared to the previous four years, is substantially higher. This increase in spending can be associated with this ethical dilemma and the need to keep people coming to their parks. This move by Disney paid off as they were able to generate $55.63 billion in global revenue in 2016, which can be attributed to both the increased spending in advertising and the disassociation of Hill.

This was also the ethical choice based on the reputation of the company. In 2016, Forbes named Disney the second most reputable company in the world, which is higher than their 2015 ranking at sixth. This shows that the Walt Disney company has a high reputation around the world, specifically between the sales of motion pictures and the attraction to the amusement parks. With the disassociation of Hill, and the company's ability to advertise more, this can still be considered ethical. Based on Hill's reputation with his Coca Cola scandal, Disney had no choice but to disassociate itself from the study. By asking the publisher into not releasing the study, Disney was saving money and its reputation, all while staying within the law.


Mickey Mouse themed oranges 
According to a Kantianist, this case is unethical because of it violates the basic principles that Kantianism is based on. These four principles are act rationally, allow and help people to make rational decisions, respect people, their autonomy, and their individual needs and differences, and be motivated by good will. Because Disney attempted to withhold information, both the results of the study and the association with those who conducted the study, they are not allowing people to make rational decisions, nor acting rationally as a company. To act ethically in this situation, it would have been better to release the study, but also announce the association with Hill and his team and that the company chose poorly in their decision to work with them. In this hypothetical situation, people would be able to make a decision on the study themselves and Disney would have been motivated by good will to stay true to publishing the results of the study and help people make the decisions they want.

With Kantian ethics in mind, it is important to note the formula of humanity. According to Kant, the formula of humanity refers to "act[ing] in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means." In this sense, 'end' refers to something valuable in itself, for it's own sake, while 'means' refers to something that is valuable as a way to get something else. Disney compromised the study about nutrition by both hiring Hill in the first place, then again by suppressing the study's publication. By doing this, they are trying to get people to purchase food at their amusement parks that may be unhealthy for them, and has caused the nutrition details to be compromised overall.


Utilitarianism looks at the overall happiness of the stakeholders and attempts to maximize that happiness. With this decision to suppress the publication, the stakeholders would not be happy, thus it is unethical in this form of ethics. As mentioned above, the shareholders who hold stock in the Walt Disney company, this sort of scandal can cost thousands, even million of dollars in financial lost. The long term security that people try to achieve by investing in Disney can be dismantled by scandals like this. It raises the question "What else have they suppressed?" and "what will they suppress in the future regardless of them being caught once?" These types of questions can cause reputation to collapse and the benefit of shareholders investments to be stripped from the company.

More importantly, the customers who eat at the amusement parks can't trust the study's outcome, and with the publication being suppressed, they can't make decisions rationally. When people have diseases, or are trying to avoid diseases, that are depended on nutrition, scandals like this cause them to loose faith in the company, which in turn can cause them to avoid going to the amusement parks, cruises, resorts, and other themed locations that Disney owns. Disney, in turn, should have attempted to maximize happiness in both the stakeholders and the company by publicly denouncing the study with an explanation as to why they believe the study should be discredited. By doing this, customers would have the ability to be happy by making their own decisions, while the company would be happy by clearly separating themselves from Hill and his past scandals. 

Virtue Theory

The Virtue Theory is a theory based on Aristotle's ethics, and focuses around the the characteristics that allow things to function properly, or virtues as the name suggests. Virtues depend on the thing's function and the thing's circumstances, and to determine how to act in any situation, the mean between the extremes must be found, then acted upon. The four main characteristics are honesty, courage, justice, and temperance. 

Honesty can sway from absolute honesty and absolute dishonesty, and in this circumstance, Disney did not act honestly, but acted more towards the dishonesty side of the scale. By suppressing Hill's study from release by pressuring the publishing company, Disney was not honest towards their stakeholders. They attempted to withhold information about Hill's past and the association with Hill to begin with, and therefore were not acting according to this theory.  The extremes of courage range from cowardice to rashness, and in this situation Disney was acting rash in their decision to cover up the study. By acting quickly and not taking time to come up with a better solution, the company ended up digging themselves into a deeper hole with their stakeholders and could of caused some serious damage to the financials or their reputation. The courageous action would of been to make a public announcement explaining the situation with Hill and how, in the companies opinion, the study should be repealed and conducted with someone more credible as to allow the stakeholders to make their own decisions, while also gaining a better reputation for the company. With justice ranging from righteousness to corruption, it is clear to see that Disney was more towards the corruption side of the scale.

Even with temperance, Disney was not ethical in its decision making. Temperance, or self restraint, covers everything from abstinence to radicalness. Disney was radical in their decision to suppress the study's release, which goes against this theory and, again, could have acted in a more ethical way with some patience and a public announcement. Based off of these four basic virtues, it is clear that Disney was not ethical in their decision to pressure the the publisher about this study.

“About - Leadership, Management Team, Global, History, Awards, Corporate Responsibility.” The Walt Disney Company,

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Consumers - Using the Nutrition Facts Label: A How-To Guide for Older Adults.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

“Healthy Theme Park Meals?” Food and Brand Lab, 2016,

Kaplan, Sheila. “Disney Tried to Suppress Nutrition Study on Its Theme Park Meals.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 8 Apr. 2016,

O’Connor, Anahad. “Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2015,

Olinger, David. “CU Nutrition Expert Accepts $550,000 from Coca-Cola for Obesity Campaign.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 6 June 2016,

Olinger, David. “CU Nutrition Expert Who Took Coca-Cola Money Steps Down.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 6 June 2016,

Rucker, Robert B., and Michael R. Rucker. “Nutrition: Ethical Issues and Challenges.” Nutrition Research, Elsevier, 20 Oct. 2016,

Strauss, Karsten. “The World's Most Reputable Companies, 2016.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Apr. 2016,

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

GNC spiked and filler supplements (December 2016)

GNC spiked and filler supplements (2016)

One of the products under GNC's investigation
GNC is one of the biggest vitamin and supplement suppliers in the US. In the past years they have been at the center of the largest supplement scandals in recent years. It became known that GNC was selling products that were mislabeled and ingredients were tampered with using fillers. This was discovered near the beginning of 2016 and went all the way up until mid 2017. Many products were discovered to have this issue including their protein powders, fat burners, and multivitamins. A lot of these supplements contained ingredients such as wheat, soy, and branched chain amino acids (BCAA), and 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). These ingredients were added to supplements in order to cut down on margins when manufacturing these products, however the change of ingredients was not noted on the label and poses an issue when it comes to allergies in consumers and also potential heart attacks with the DMAA. The company claimed that they didn’t know what was in the capsules and powder, because they outsource ingredients form other companies. Once it was made public that this was going on, a lawsuit was filed against the company. It was filed with the department of justice and in the end, GNC was forced to pay a $2 million settlement. GNC has yet to release an apology as of right now but claims to stand by their products. 


GNC HQ in Pittsburgh PA 
Many people were effected in this controversy. To start, the biggest group to be effected by this are those that took these products. GNC has tons of stores all across the US and sells to millions of people, and the products involved were some of their most popular items. The only reason this was discovered was that people reported health issues, so, many people had allergic reactions and issues after using the product. Not only does this cause an issue in those that bought the product and had issues, but also people who buy from GNC may have lost some trust in the company. Next, is the employees of GNC. With the company losing money in the lawsuit, it’s possible they could make up for the lose with layoffs of their employees. And finally, GNC’s top management. These were the people who chose to use this method in order to save them money. These managers have lost trust from its customers and lost the company money and potentially their own money. Overall, many people were involved in this issue and it branches across to many people’s lives. 


In the theory of individualism, it is stated that a company is only obligated to maximize its profits for owners and stakeholders. However, even though financial gains are the main objective and an individualist would achieve that by any means, it is also noted that an individualist must also remain within the law while maximizing profits.  In this case, an individualist would say that this practice is not ethically permissible. It was GNC intent to maximize their profits on their products by making cuts and adding fillers and replacement ingredients to its products, however they didn’t label these changes and because of that they broke the second part of individualism and that is acting within the law. Even though they are not regulated by the FDA, like other food and drug companies, the fact that they did not label the fillers, stimulants, and decrease in the amount of other products means that they were at fault of false and misleading advertising. Since they knowingly didn’t label the new ingredients, their false advertisement posed a major health violation that the department of justice deemed their action as negligence, or failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another. Also, not only did they fail on the legal side of individualism, but they also lost the lawsuit and a $2 million settlement had to be paid. Any direct loss of money would be viewed by an individualist as stealing from the stakeholders in the company. To also add, because they were found to be at fault they also lost customers in the process, which would be a loss on potential future revenue. In the end, their intent to save money and maximize profit only lost them money directly as well as future sources of income. Overall, GNC acted in a way that individualists would claim to be an unethical action, due to the fact that they broke the law in the process, also, they failed to maximize profits by losing money in the lawsuit, as well as potential investments in the future.


The theory of utilitarianism revolves around the theory of maximizing happiness for all the stakeholders involved in the long run. In this case, a utilitarian would say that GNC’s actions were not ethically permissible. The reason for this is because by the end of the lawsuit none of the stakeholders involved had increased happiness. When analyzing a case from a utilitarian stand point one must look at all the consequences of the action whether they be good or bad. To start, GNC’s upper management made the choice to add fillers and stimulants. This gave them extra money at the time being so their happiness would have increased, however utilitarianism looks at the long-term effects. After the lawsuit, the company had lost money and was given a bad reputation, which would bring these top members of the company’s happiness down. Next, the customers were promised a product that would help them to achieve their fitness goals. They made purchases thinking they were being told exactly what they were getting, however once it was made public that this was not the case, the consumers were disappointed and overall happiness was not maximized. Also, those who were directly affected by these ingredient changes were hurt the most. The consumers who bought products that, unbeknown to them, contained ingredients that they were allergic to and had to be treated and/or rushed to the hospital. Some were even unknowingly over using the product because it contained DMAA and that caused health issues in people. If GNC had thought about the long-term effects rather than only focusing on the short term, they could have realized that their actions would be potentially dangerous for numerous customers by causing health issues, and that they would be losing out on money from the lawsuit and also lost current and potential customers. Overall, the long-term effects of GNC’s actions caused major issues with everyone involved from the top all the way to the bottom, and because of that no one’s overall happiness was increased and many were harmed in the process.


In Kantianism, the main focus falls on those behind the actions, in this case it would be the heads of GNC. Kantianism theory’s biggest aspects are to act rationally, inform consumers so they can make rational decisions for themselves, respect customers, and act on goodwill. When viewing the case from this point of view, in this case, a Kantian would say GNC’s actions were unethical. To start, GNC decided to make multiple changes to their formulas on several of their products in order to cut down on margins and increase profits. However they did not act rationally here, because they did not take into account what would happen to their customers if they made the changes in ingredients. Since GNC chose to not take factors other than money into account, they acted irrationally. Next, GNC added these ingredients, but did not list any of the changes on a new label and make that information obvious to the consumers. Without that information, a person lacks the ability to choose and act rationally when looking to buy GNC’s products. Their next failure was choosing to not inform their customers to help them act rationally. Also, GNC lacked in showing their customers respect. Them not listing changes to their product as well as the addition of potentially harmful fillers and stimulants shows a lack of respect for the wellbeing of its customers and paints an image that GNC does not care about helping its users achieve their goals. Finally, GNC also showed that their actions were not made with the intent of acting on goodwill. By choosing to be deceitful and cheap towards their customers, just goes to show that the only result GNC was looking for was a way to scam customers and make more money from it. They were more focused on their overall profit and in the process, did not take into consideration the respect that they are obligated to give to their customers. Due to GNC failing on all fronts of Kantianism, a Kantian would decide that GNC’s action were unethical.

Virtue Theory

Case examination through virtue theory focuses on the character of companies and how they reflect the companies’ values and standards. Virtue theory has four main focuses, which are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. When looking at how GNC acted, it is easy to notice that they fall short on these characteristics and because of that a virtue theorists would say that they acted unethically. To start, GNC did not have the courage to make it known that they were adding ingredients and taking away others and come forward and tell their customers that the formula had changed, because of their fear of losing revenue because they would be producing a lesser quality product. Next, they were also obviously not honest about using fillers and stimulants in their product. Their dishonesty not only came from not mentioning the fillers, but also by stating that the nutrition facts were still the same and had the same benefits, when in reality it no longer was the case. Also, GNC showed a lack of moderation. Their lack of moderation showed when they decided to make financial savings at the customer’s expense, rather than finding methods within the company to do so, such as finding cheaper outsourcing companies or insourcing the ingredients all together. Finally, they disregarded justice by holding back information from their consumers. It was unjust of them to lie to the people that put the company where it is now and putting those same people’s health at risk all to save a few dollars per unit. After examining all of these characteristics and seeing how GNC lacks in each of them, it starts to paint a picture of what the company’s moral values are and what their real intent is. Since GNC failed across all aspects of virtue theory, it is clear to see that a virtue theorist would say that GNC’s actions were not ethically permissible based on this theory.


Maggie Fox, December 8, 2016.GNC agrees to pay $2 million fine and examine supplements it sells

Alison Young, October 23, 2015.Oregon AG accuses retailer GNC of selling drug-spiked dietary supplements

Gregory WallaceFebruary 4, 2015.Wal-mart, Target and others under fire for selling bogus supplements

February 3, 2015. Herbal supplements filled with fake ingredients, investigators find

David Kroll, February 9, 2015. Cease-And-Desist Orders Hit Walmart, Walgreens And Others For Herbal Supplement Sales

Anahad O’Connor, February 4, 2015.New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers

April 12, 2018GNC (store)

Aly Raisman: Lawsuit

Aly Raisman Sues United States Olympic Committee and U.S Gymnastics (March 2, 2018, Santa Clara County, California)

             Controversy: U.S Olympian, Aly Raisman, has pressed charges against the United States Olympic Committee and U.S Gymnastics. Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor, is now serving time in prison for sexually abusing young athletes. Raisman is enraged at these two organizations, for she believes they “knew” and or “should have known” about this unacceptable behavior (1). 
Image result for aly raisman sues olympics
Aly Raisman: Hearing on February 8, 2018
Aly Raisman is disgraced at the higher levels of the United States Olympic Committee, as she believes they were aware of Larry Nassar’s molestations towards gymnasts who participated with the U.S Gymnastics. USA Over 250 women, girls, males and other athletes, have experienced sexual mistreatment at the hands of Larry Nassar (2).  These victims serve as a large majority of the stakeholders impacted by this case. Olympians  are role models to young athletes and spectators around the world.Therefore, it is difficult for them to bring light to such disgusting behavior. The Olympics are supposed to be a safe place for families and athletes of all nationalities. However, 
Nassar’s despicable behavior puts the reputation of the entire United States Olympic Committee at risk. Raisman’s lawsuit will be filed toward the U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics for negligence of this behavior (1).
Image result for aly raisman sues olympics
2016 Olympic Gold Medal Winning Team: Coached by Larry Nassar
Stakeholders: There are many prominent stakeholders in this case. First and foremost, the Olympic athletes who were negatively impacted by Nassar’s abusive behavior. These athletes were put in uncomfortable positions by someone that was supposed to be caring and trustworthy. Bringing attention to these issues can be intimidating and even terrifying. This occurred as they were already enduring the stress of being an Olympic athlete. In this case, Raisman serves as one of the many voices speaking for justice. Other specific victims include McKayla Maroney (former U.S Gymnast), Jacob Moore (Michigan), Jessica Thomashow (Michigan) and Katherine Ebert (Michigan). Nassar has a large list of victims and Raisman is enraged at the ability of these organizations to protect innocent people from Nassar’s abuse.Moreover, the United States Olympic Committee as well as the U.S Olympics are major stakeholders in this scenario. The Chief Executive of the U.S Olympic Committee, Scott Blackmun, stepped down due to a prostate cancer diagnosis. The entire U.S Olympic Committee, however, is facing sharp criticism (4). The top officials of both organizations have seemed to dwindle away.
Image result for larry nassar february 8
Larry Nassar on February 8, 2018
The U.S Olympic Committee also required the entire board of U.S Gymnastics to step down. The goal was to improve the organization and create a safer environment for athletes (6).  Members of the U.S Gymnastics Committee, including Steve Penny (former president), Paul Parilla (chairman of the board) and many others resigned from the board.  Raisman believes this is a result of the organizations avoiding to admit how much they knew about Nassar’s predatory behavior (2). The U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics both failed to attend Raisman’s hearing on February 8, 2018. Six weeks later, Raisman sued these organizations. She claimed they were “unwilling to conduct a full investigation”. Her goal was to use the legal process to hold them accountable for their actions. Raisman is only one of about 250 women and girls who have sued Nassar and the organizations he affiliated with. (2). Overall, the U.S Olympics Committee and U.S Gymnastics are experiencing extreme backlash from many. Their public relations are at stake. They must react to the victims, their families, and all directly involved in the Olympics in order to further protect their reputation
Individualism: This case is impermissible according to individualists. Individualism refers to the idea that behavior is acceptable as long as it maximizes profit and stays within the boundaries of the law. This case does not meet either of these qualifications.
Utilitarianism: According to utilitarianism, this case would be considered unethical. The goal of utilitarianism is to maximize happiness of those involved. The athletes involved with these incidents are certainly not happy. The  USOC is also unhappy because they are now losing money because they are being sued. The stakeholders in this case would all be negatively impacted emotionally. Therefore, according to utilitarianism, this would be ethically impermissible. 
Kantianism: A Kant would also deem this behavior to be ethically impermissible. Kantianism refers to the idea that people should not be treated as a means to an end. In this case, Aly Raisman believes the USOC were aware of the unacceptable behaviors occurring and chose to look away. The company did not go out of their way to address these claims and they went against the beliefs of Kantianism by not ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the athletes representing their company.
Virtue Theory: Virtue Theory emphasizes the importance of analyzing the situation itself and deciding if it honest and fair. In this case, the company did not address the situation in an honest manner. After many claims were made and they still failed to take proper action, Aly Raisman believed the only way to serve justice to these people would be by suing the company itself. 
Action Plan: The first step the USOC should take is to send out a public address, such as a written news release. This release should discuss to what extent they were aware of Nassar's wrongdoings. Moreover, the goal should be to apologize for the role they placed, whether accidental or not, in allowing Nassar's behavior to hurt and impact so many athletes under their supervision. After addressing the public, the USOC and U.S Gymnastics should specifically reach out to victims, like Raisman, individually. They must attempt to redeem themselves and apologize for their behavior when the news brought these incidents to light. Next, the USOC should work on updating their policies and procedures on sexual abuse. They can achieve this by running sessions, for coaches and athletes, to educate them on the signs of sexual abuse and what to do if they are in a situation themselves. Also, the USOC should hire specialists, such as therapists who work with sexual abuse victims, to be available if athletes need someone to talk to or ask questions to. This will also help to better protect athletes in the future, which goes into the next step of the action plan. The USOC must act on any claims or concerns raised about sexual harassment or abuse. They should be closely connected with the coaches, athletes and therapists in and communicate often and thoroughly. The USOC must be preventative, active and proactive in regards to sexual mistreatment. Overall, the USOC must work to restore their tarnished reputation and ensure to all publics that they will not neglect these, or any issues, ever again. 

Uber’s controversies with Asian Governments (Sept. 20, 2017)

The Case                                                                               Ubers Indonesian' Offices
Offices like these were kept by paying local officials to neglect
the fact that they were not in the correctly zoned area
            Recently Uber has exploded as a company and went from a small startup company in San Francisco to an international company with many different branches. Expanding this rapidly will always come with many obstacles and issues. Asia has been an area of issue for Uber since they started business there. Uber has had incidents and the past and is currently under investigation by the United States government. Uber is cooperating with the investigation therefore showing it did not intend for these incidents to happen. One of these issues was in Jakarta Indonesia, “Police officers said the space was outside city zoning for businesses, so an employee decided to dole out multiple, small payments to police to continue operating there, the people said. The transactions showed up on the employee’s expense reports, described as payments to local authorities” (Newcomer). Uber has fired this employee and has placed Alan Jiang, the person who oversaw the Indonesia branch as well as approving the expense report with these payments in it, on leave of absence.  One of the senior members of Uber chose not to report this to the U.S. officials even though he knew about it last year. They did however release the information when the Justice Department asked them about it, this will allow the justice department to be a little bit more lenient since they voluntarily told the department the information.
            The next incident that occurred was that Uber made a large donation to Malaysian Global Innovations and Creativity Centre. This company is designing the app that Uber will use in Asia. It is also a government backed entrepreneur hub in Malaysia. Within a short time after this, a donation by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, a Malaysian pension fund, invested 30 million dollars in Uber. Due to the surfacing of the payments in Indonesia and the inquiries about the donation and then investment Uber has hired, “law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP to review its Asia operations. It previously hired the firm to investigate how it obtained the medical records of an Indian woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014, Reuters reported in June” (CNBC). They will be looking to see if Uber broke the Foreign Corrupt Practices act (FGPA). This law makes it illegal for American companies to pay or bribe any foreign government. The probe is investigating this transaction and transactions like this one because, “Less than a year later, the Malaysian government passed national ride-hailing laws that were favorable to Uber and its peers. Lawyers are trying to determine whether there was any form of quid pro quo” (Newcomer). There are many red flags in this entire transaction and it does not help that there has already been bribery in Indonesia by Uber. It is said that two former executives of Uber, Emil Michael, and Eric Alexander, are to have played key roles on negotiating these deals. The Department of Justice, “is looking into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids US companies from paying bribes to foreign officials” (Price). Uber is excited to continue and build on their business in Asia. There was a post on their website saying that Uber appreciates, “the government’s support for the innovative business model that Uber represents; as an important driver of economic growth, providing new, cost-effective transportation options and helping address challenges of congestion and pollution” (Khera). Uber is also ready for the many regulations that do come with the passing of ride sharing in Asia. According to their website, their, “focus at this time will also be helping driver-partners efficiently and effectively make plans to transition to this new regulatory environment. (They) look forward to continuing (their) engagement with the Government on this” (Khera). The government although passing laws in favor of Uber has still put many regulations on the ride hailing industry. One of the regulations is from, “the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said e-hailing companies will have to submit drivers’ identification to the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to facilitate criminal checks to be carried out before these drivers are hired” (Jun). This is a reasonable regulation on the industry, it assures customers that the Uber drives will be trustworthy people. The regulations also include, “This bill will make it compulsory for e-hailing companies to have an intermediation business license and comply with conditions set by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board” (Jun). Due to this Uber will need to stay a licensed company throughout Asia in order to operate. Some of the regulations do benefit taxi drivers by reducing their checks from every six months to once a year. Another regulation that benefits taxis is that, “e-hailing drivers are only allowed to operate in the country while taxi drivers can take passengers to Singapore and Thailand due to a government-to-government agreement between Malaysia and the two neighboring countries” (Jun). When Malaysian Global Innovations and Creativity Centre was asked about these transactions their response was, “We strongly refute our involvement in any quid-pro-quo arrangements” (Newcomer). Most of these transactions show that there was some bribery occurring and from the outside looking in it seems that they had to pay off the government to be able to operate their business. Many of the government in these developing countries are already corrupt and there are few other ways to get anything passed to benefit a company with out bribing the local government.
            This case has a lot of depth and the surface has only been scratched since it is so recent there is an ongoing investigation that will hopefully uncover more evidence that can provide a clear concise end to this case. Only time will tell if there was bribery involved between Uber and the Malaysian government.
Stakeholders                                                                              The CEO of Uber
Uber's current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
There are many key stakeholders in this case since it involves both a private company and different governments. Each individual government is a stake holder since they have each either taken or given money to the company. This shows that there is a section of the government that is corrupt. The users of Uber are at stake but in a much smaller way since these issues do not directly affect them, but they would still be paying into a corrupt company which no one really would like to do. The CEO of Uber is also a large stake holder since all these decisions reflect on him. In total there is a case of bribing the police, faulting obtaining of medical records, getting fraudulent money invested in the company, and having laws made to favor the company based on the money they paid to the government.
The individualist theory is that a business must operate in the best interest of its stakeholders and turn the most profit possible while staying within the law. Milton Friedman’s view of individualism is just that a business must operate to maximize profits and stay within the law. Any other action that would not result in profits would be deemed unethical since it would be stealing from the owners and stakeholders in the company. Tibor Machan argued that this idea can hold a business back since sometimes there are decisions a company makes that in the short-term stumps profits, however eventually will yield much greater profits. Machan did agree with Friedman on the fact that the company still needed to stay within the law (Salazar 17-28). In this case it seems that Uber did not stay within the law and therefore based on the individualist theory this was an unethical choice. Uber in the first case of the office space in Indonesia clearly paid the local officials to allow them to use an incorrectly zoned area as an office space. In doing so Uber broke bribery laws which violates the idea that individualism is based on. The second case has a less evidence currently since the public does not know if the donation made by Uber and the investment made by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan had anything to do with bribing the government. If that is the case, even though the decision to donate money was in the best interest of the company and its stake holders since it then allowed Uber to operate, it is still unethical base on individualism since it still violates the law. Uber as a company has violated the individualistic theory on the sole premise that their bribes even though they were in the best interest of the company were illegal.
Utilitarianism is the promotion of happiness throughout the entire community. Every person needs to benefit from the company’s decision not just the company. Utilitarianism base for ethical rule is that the, “Business actions should aim to maximize the happiness in the long run for all conscious beings that are affected by the business action” (Salazar 19). In this case the company’s decision to invest in the Asian government created happiness for some since it made business easier. However, it did not create happiness for competing companies, such as taxis. This is because the law changes that occurred only benefited Uber and no one else. The first case caused a space that could have been being used correctly, but instead it was taken up by Uber. This could have made many people in the city of Jakarta unhappy. People would be unhappy with this if they were looking to use the space for its proper zoned usage, but instead they would find a company operating a business there. This inconveniences others and violates the idea behind Utilitarianism.
The second issue Uber is investigating is the donation and then investment of Kumpulan Wang Persaraan in Uber. Although it may not have been bribery since it is not proven to have been yet, it still violates Utilitarianism. The reason being that Uber needed to be able to operate in Malaysia but could not wait for the laws to be approved at the normal rate, thus they had to donate money to the government in order to speed up the process. This does not promote happiness, Uber paying the already corrupt government and feeding into the system only strengthens the corruption. When companies should be fighting the corruption and making every move possible to try to eliminate it. This is a tough decision companies need to make since the two sides of the decision have drastically different results. On one hand the company could pay the bribe and continue to operate, risking being caught. Or they could make the ethically right choice and fight the corruption, while not being able to operate. A corrupt government will always lead to its citizens being unhappy therefore both of the incidents are unethical according to utilitarianism.
Kantianism is the theory that a business must make rational decision and not treat the consumers as an ends but instead as a means. Kantianism is the ideolog that a business must, “Always act in ways that respect and honor individuals and their choices. Don’t lie, cheat, manipulate or harm others to get your way. Rather, use informed and rational consent from all parties” (Salazar 20). In this case the business was making rational decisions for themselves and for their stakeholders since they were trying to increase profits. But they were not making rational decisions for the consumer or anyone else. This case violates Kantianism since Ubers investment was only to gain for themselves rather than making their company a more holistic company. One of the main ideas behind Kantianism, as previously mentioned, is that a company must not manipulate anyone to get their way. Both incidents this case is investigating either have clear evidence supporting that Uber manipulated others to get their way or has suspicion of manipulation. The first case where an Uber employee payed local officials to ignore the fact that they were operating in an incorrectly zoned area is a clear case of manipulation. On the employee’s expense report the payments were even described as “payments to local officials”. There is no hiding the fact that this was bribery and manipulation. The second incident that is being investigated does not have a set decision based on Kantianism since it has not been proven that Uber’s donation and the investment mad by Kumpulan Wang Persaraan had anything to do with the laws that were passed. If they do find that these transactions did lead to the laws being passed, then it does violate Kantianism. Like wise if they find that the transactions had nothing to do with the passing of the law Uber did not violate the ideology behind Kantianism.
Virtue Theory                                                                                         Uber's Future

Uber will face many obstacles going forward with
In this theory a company must act based on the four different characteristics defined as justice temperance honesty and courage. The virtue theory focuses on the individual as a whole rather than basing it off of a certain ideology. It considers if the decision made the person or company’s character better. If the decision benefits the company’s character, then it is ethical for the company to do. These actions made by Uber do not reflect those characteristics, nor to they add to the character of the company. These actions make Uber look like a company that pays the government to get an edge on the competition. They sow that Uber is a company that is feeding into the corruption in Asia rather than fighting. The decisions that Uber has made as well as its employees reflect poorly on their character which is the main focus of the virtue theory. Thus, the decisions are unethical pertaining to the virtue theory.

“Finding the Way.” The Uber Story | Uber,
Ingram, David. “What Is at Stake for Uber in U.S. Bribery Probe?” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 21 Sept. 2017,
Jun, Soo Wern. “Grab, Uber Now Regulated after Public Transport Bills Passed in Dewan Negara.” NST Online, 15 Aug. 2017,
Khera, Ashvin. “Malaysia Ridesharing Regulations Passed In Parliament.” Uber Blog, 28 July 2017,
McAlone, Avery Hartmans and Nathan. “The Story of How Travis Kalanick Built Uber into the Most Feared and Valuable Startup in the World.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 1 Aug. 2016,
Newcomer, Eric. “Uber Faces Widespread Asia Bribery Allegations Amid U.S. Criminal Probe.”, Bloomberg, 20 Sept. 2017,
Price, Rob. “Uber Is Cooperating with DOJ Investigation of Alleged Bribes Paid in Several Asian Countries.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 20 Sept. 2017,

“Uber Is Reportedly Reviewing Its Asia Business amid US Bribery Probe.” CNBC, CNBC, 20 Sept. 2017,

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Internet Research Agency: Russian Company Behind the 2016 U.S. Election Meddling (March 2016)

Internet Research Agency Headquarters: Russian "Troll Farm"
Federal Prosecutor Robert Muller, appointed to oversee the investigation in the 2016 U.S presidential election meddling controversy has set a federal grand jury indictment against thirteen Russian nationals in motion on the ongoing investigation. There is a recent developing insight into how the Internet Research Agency, (a Kremlin-linked Russian troll group) set up a vast network of fake accounts of American activist groups and used stolen identities of real Americans in an attempt to wreak havoc on America’s political system. According to Analysis by U.S. Strategic Command from 2015, among the fake accounts created by the Internet Research Agency’s so-called “Translate project” are some recognizable ones such as; “Secured Borders,” an anti-immigration page. The Secured Borders page, spent months posing as an American activist group and spreading provocative messages and images on Facebook insulting immigrants, calling them “scums” and “freeloaders,”  and basically linking refugees to all sorts of crimes (New York Times).  The page attracted more than 133,000 followers before being removed by Facebook.

Another one of these fake accounts is “Blacktivist,” this account is found on both Facebook and Twitter; these accounts regularly share contents, which are meant to cause outrage among the people they are targeting. The Internet Research Agency’s fake social media accounts identified racial tensions as something to be exploited in order to achieve the broader goal set by the Russian government of dividing Americans and creating chaos in U.S. politics during a campaign in which race repeatedly became an issue (CNN media). These fake accounts were so popular that for instance, the Facebook account of “Blacktivist” had approximately 360,000 likes, more than the verified Black Lives Matter account on Facebook, which currently has just over 301,000 (CNN media).

Other popular accounts created by the Agency are “United Muslims of America” and “Heart of Texas,” The IRA advertised them, and deceived hundreds of thousands of people into joining them.
 Provocative Social Media Posts Linked to the IRA 
These sites were designed to look like they were operated by real Americans. They specifically focused on a number of divisive and sensitive issues in American life, including issues on race relations, religion, immigration, and the 2016 presidential election. For example, on Facebook alone, an estimated 126 million Americans may have been exposed to the material the group produced. The Indictment further reveals how the agency had a budget of over $1.25 million by September 2016 big enough to include money for bonuses for its employees. As a result, the company was able to engage in some serious malpractices and has yet to deny any of these allegations.

According to A New York Times story published regarding the Internet Research Agency, the company employs hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda under fake identities on Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter influence the elections. This method of strategy the Agency was using is described as "Troll Farm." According to Collins Dictionary, a Troll Farm is an organization whose employees or members attempt to create conflict and disruption in an online community by posting deliberately inflammatory or provocative comments. The Agency used what is known as automated Twitter accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages one after another in the exact alphabetical order of their fabricated names, according to the FireEye researchers.

On Election Day, for instance, they found that one group of Twitter bots sent out the hashtag #War Against Democrats more than 1,700 times. Provocative comments such as the one later are the unethical and problematic issues that the Internet Agency is operating under. Given the powerful role Social media plays in our daily lives these fake troll farms, are platforms that that are able to get their messages across, in a very influential way, and as a result causing undesirable outcomes. The undesirable outcome in question is not regarding the overall election results in terms of who eventually became president but instead is more focused on the manner in which the agency conducted its self by creating fake identities acting in behalf of real people to add false advertisement. As for both Facebook and Twitter, the message from both companies is that they are studying the 2016 media hackings and are learning to defend against such meddling for future purposes. Critics say that because shareholders judge the companies partly based on a crucial data point such as “monthly active users “they are then reluctant to police their sites too aggressively for fear of reducing that number. The companies use technical tools and teams of analysts to detect bogus accounts, however, the scale of the sites are incredibly high in numbers approximately 328 million users on and Twitter and nearly two billion on Facebook. Normally given the scale of data companies often remove impostors only in response to complaints. Companies
Secured Borders Propaganda Image aimed to initiate hate
affected by the hacking were able to act accordingly within a short period after detecting the hacks.

Stakeholders: There are many stakeholders involved in this controversy. Among the most prominent stakeholders affected are the thirteen members of the company who have been indicted by Robert Muller. These Stakeholders were directly involved in the meddling and have been identified for their crimes. Having members of the company indicted brings with it a negative reputation to the company. The term "Troll Farm" brings out a negative connotation to the company and labels such as this one are never a positive image of a company. Other Affected stakeholders are the over one-thousand employees of the company. The employees at the Internet Research Agency are involved because they are part of the group of people who were directly involved in the controversy. Some employees weather not indicted will be affected just being part of a company that has been a major part of world news in a negative fashion; this could have an internal impact to their personal lives.

Among the stakeholders are also everyone in the American public who were either deceived by the many fake social media accounts, or the negative influence the company had on stealing their identities and eventually intervening with their right to exercise their democratic process of  free and fair elections without interference. The agency affected the Social Media industry as a whole. Media companies such as Facebook and Twitter are part of the stakeholders whose market pool got affected. The Internet Research Agency will need to maintain a relationship with these social media companies since the content and agenda that the IRA works with is driven by the availability of these social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to do their research. Additionally, building healthy relationships with these media stakeholders will reduce the likelihood of their being future lawsuits against the company.  

Individualist: Friedman’s individualism theory states, “The only goal of business is to profit, so the obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders.” The key element in Freidman’s definition of individualism is “profit.” Profit in this context is any outcome that appears to be beneficial for the company and its agenda. For instance, profit can be a company getting the maximum amount of money they can generate, at the expense of some of its customers, but as long as the outcome brings profit to the company then an Individualists would evaluate the situation as a positive one. This, of course, becomes problematic because, if the interpretation of Friedman’s theory is taken verbatim then certain companies will act in the most unethical and socially undesired ways to meet their personal goals of profit. For example, an individualist can interpret this case as ethical in regards to how the company has been able to generate a lot of money from the Russian government due to their services. By creating these fake accounts, the company was aiding the needs of its government and in return made lots of money out of the actions. Overall helping increases the revenue of the company. However, the company’s actions have indeed led to negative and undesirable attention worldwide.

Utilitarianism: The Utilitarianism theory of business ethics involves two aspects, egoism and altruism. Egoism is to maximize your own happiness and altruism is to maximize happiness in others. A person with utilitarian principles would asses this case as unethical. The IRA were probably acting to maximize the happiness of themselves in terms of employees getting lots of money, and perhaps the happiness of the heads of the Russian government. However, this would only apply to the Egoism concept of utilitarianism. The reason why this issue is unethical to a utilitarian is that in order for the company to act ethically, both concepts must apply. The IRA did not necessarily benefit the whole of Russian society by committing these acts. The altruism part of utilitarianism is unfulfilled. Though the company might have brought joy to the Russian Oligarch, more than a majority of the country is not associated with oligarch, and they are most likely not happy with the negative publicity the country has had to face since the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.  Additionally, not only did the actions of the IRA not maximize the happiness of all-Russians, Americans were definitely not happy about the behaviors of the IRA once they found out who was behind the election meddling. Globally, on a larger scale the company failed to increase the overall happiness, in fact, one can say the effect is the exact opposite. Since the actions were viewed as cynical and socially unacceptable.

Kantianism: There are four basic principles to Kantianism. The principles are as follows; (1) act rationally, (2) allow and help people to make rational decisions (3) respect people, their autonomy, and their individual needs and differences, and (4), be motivated by good will. According to a person who follows Kantian ethical beliefs, this case is unethical. First, though The Internet Research Agency might have been acting rationally in their own view since they were fully aware of the actions and consequences of their acts, they were however irrational because their acts would ultimately hurt their company due to the negative publicity such actions receive. Second, the company did not allow people to make rational decisions because the decisions people made that were affected by the troll farms were not voluntary, in most cases people were not aware they were being given misleading information that might have led them to think or act or even protest for untruthful causes. Most importantly, the Internet Research Agency showed a lack of respect to the people and their autonomy, by deceiving them, stealing their identities, and in a way taking their rights to participate in a free and fair election. It is clear that The Internet Research Agency’s motivation does not reveal any indication for goodwill. Their intentions were clearly to cause disruption and humiliation to the American democratic system.

Virtue Theory: The Virtue Theory of business ethics focuses directly on the action taken by the company and considers how it is unethical. The Virtue Theory focuses on four characteristics, courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Applied to this case, the IRA did not show any of these characteristics. Though the IRA has not publicly denied the charges leveled on them, they also have not shown the courage to acknowledge their involvement in the meddling process; they are constantly being deceitful in that they are not honest at all. In fact, their entire agenda is driven through falls statements and advertising which does not resemble a virtuous ethical code in business. Furthermore, the IRA is not doing what constitutes to being morally right by stealing and creating falls identities of people, in that case, their actions are immoral. Furthermore, The IRA is constantly lying to people as part of its operation, they have lost credibility due to their actions and the nature of their actions has led to a wide majority of people deeming their behavior unjustifiable. According to virtue theory, if the IRA had implemented most of these characteristics such as honesty, courage, and justice as part of their operations, their actions would have been ethically acceptable in accordance to the standards of virtue theory of business ethics.


Ciaccia, Chris. “Internet Research Agency Indicted: Who Is the Russian Company behind the Fake Facebook Ads?” Fox News, FOX News Network, 16 Feb. 2018,

Donie O'Sullivan16. “Internet Research Agency Indictment: What the Russians Did and How They Did It.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 16 Feb. 2018,

Ewing, Philip. “The Russia Investigations: Mueller Indicts The 'Internet Research Agency'.”Illinois Public Media, 17 Feb. 2018,

Ross, Alexander Reid. “The Internet Research Agency: behind the Shadowy Network That Meddled in the 2016 Elections.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 21 Feb. 2018,

Shane, Scott. “The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2017,